By Matt Cohen
Golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy make it look easy. But winning a Major Championship is excruciatingly difficult. No one can attest to this mantra more than our list of the 6 best golfers never to win a Major.
6. Steve Stricker
At 47-years-old, Stricker is no longer one of the most feared players on the PGA Tour, and only plays in a handful of tournaments each year. Go back a few years though, and the Wisconsin native was one of the more dominant players week in and week out.
Stricker turned pro in 1994, and quickly made an impression. He currently holds 22 career wins, including the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. His most successful season on tour came in 2009, when he had three tournament victories and finished second on the money list. He has ranked as high as No 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He spent 57 consecutive weeks in the world top 10 in 2007 and 2008 and was there for a further 157 consecutive weeks from 2009 to 2012.
Stricker had no such luck at the Majors though. He finished T6 at the 2009 Masters, 5th at the 1998 and 1999 U.S. Open, T7 at the 2008 Open Championship and 2nd at the 1998 PGA Championship. You gave it a good run Steve. Close, but no cigar.
5. Sergio Garcia
Just two weeks shy of his 35th birthday, Sergio Garcia could still win a Major, but the teen phenom who gave Woods a run for his money at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah hasn’t lived up to the hype. It’s not like Sergio hasn’t had a great career. He has 27 professional wins, including the 2008 Players Championship.
It’s the Major that has eluded Sergio, who has come very close. He’s finished 2nd twice at The Open Championship (2007, 2014). He’s also finished 2nd twice at the PGA Championship (1999, 2008).
Sergio went through a rough maturation process, and still has plenty of good golfing years left to win his first Major.
4. Doug Sanders
The colorful Texan Doug Sanders had a great career that spanned three decades. Capturing his first win at the 1956 Canadian Open, Sanders went on to win 20 PGA Tour events and finished in the top 10 at 13 Majors. This included four runner up finishes.
Sanders best shot at a Major came at the 1970 Open Championship. Sanders had a three-foot putt to win the Open, reached down to shoo away a bug, then went back into his stance without regrouping and missed the putt. Sanders lost the resulting 18-hole playoff the next day to Nicklaus. It’s been bugging him ever since.
3. Lee Westwood
Seriously, how has Lee Westwood not won a Major yet? The Englishman has frequently been ranked as the World Number One, and for good reason. Westwood has 41 professional wins, including 23 on The European Tour. Westwood has represented Europe in 9 Ryder Cups, 7 of those which resulted in wins.
It’s the Majors where Westwood has fallen short. Westwood has 17 top 10 finishes. Of those 17, nine of them were top 5 finishes. You would think by dumb luck that Westwood would have captured a Major one of those times. Alas, the 41-year-old is running out of time if he ever wants to get off this list.
2. Bruce Crampton
Bruce Crampton had the unfortunate luck of playing golf during the prime of Jack Nicklaus. The native of Sydney, Australia racked up 42 worldwide victories, 14 of which came on the PGA Tour.
Crampton was always a step behind The Golden Bear. He finished runner-up to Jack in four majors – the ’72 Masters and U.S. Open and the ’73 and ’75 PGA Championships. What could have been.
1. Colin Montgomerie
No real surprise here. Monty turned pro in 1987, and embarked on an incredible career that spanned nearly thirty years. The Scotland native and 2013 World Golf Hall Of Fame inductee earned 45 professional wins. He has also won a record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles, including a streak of seven consecutively from 1993 to 1999. He has won 31 European Tour events, the most of any British player.
As for the Major Championships, well, Monty is on this list for a reason. Montgomerie finished 2nd or T2 in five Majors (1994, 1997, 2006 U.S. Open, 2005 Open Championship & 1995 PGA Championship).
It really is a shame that Monty never won his Major, but that shouldn’t take away from his incredible career as a player or Ryder Cup captain.